Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sam Harris on Self Defense

Sam Harris has an excellent post up on his blog titled "The Truth about Violence: 3 Principles of Self Defense."

I realize this is a rather difficult subject for some to deal with and can be emotionally troublesome, but I feel that reading such material is important.  It's better to be safe than sorry.  His post is a combination of myth busting and common sense and makes for excellent reading.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Why would you want to study rocks?" Part 4: History

I've long been fascinated by history.  In spite of my strong leaning toward the sciences when I was trying to find my path through life I seriously considered majoring in classical studies for a time.  I dreamt of spending my life studying Greece, Rome and other ancient civilizations in their prime, of reading and translating the great dramatists, philosophers, and poets and sharing their gifts with the world.  Given that I do not have a gift for languages my near decision to enter that career path is quite significant.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Why would you want to study rocks?" Part 3: Variety

I've always found this comic by xkcd rather amusing.  To a geologist, the whole 'purity' argument that goes on amongst certain subsets of scientists seems so...wrongheaded.  We pride ourselves on research methods and areas of study that are derived from a large number of more basic fields and don't give a damn about how 'pure' our field is.

Friday, April 6, 2012

DOI whistle-blower fired.

I normally try to avoid writing on environmental and political issues, and this isn't really my beat anyway, but this issue is too important to let go.  Scientific American has reported on a hydrologist that was fired from his position as scientific-integrity officer for the Bureau of Reclamation because he noted that some of the materials that were to be presented to the public as evidence of the need to remove four dams along the Klamath river painted an inaccurately optimistic picture of the results of removing these dams.  Let's take a look:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A wonderful post.

Dana Hunter has a wonderful post up at her blog about why she doesn't bother blogging much about atheism and why the natural world is a beautiful, fascinating place without the inclusion of the supernatural.  It mirrors my thoughts on these issues exactly and it is beautifully written.  Go read it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Accretionary Wedge #44: Most Important Teacher

On one hand, I seriously considered passing over this Accretionary Wedge, feeling that I didn't have anything interesting or unique to contribute.  On the other hand, I've been dreaming of opening a blog and contributing to the Accretionary Wedge for four or five years.  Fortunately, I changed my mind because the answer to the question of who or what my most important teacher was, geologically speaking, hit me like a bolt of lightning.  Unfortunately, the path to realizing that my goal in life is to be a geologist was more circuitous than my path to entering the Wedge.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I've been getting a fair amount of traffic recently for a new blog -- no doubt in large part to Anne Jefferson's kindly linking to me on twitter -- and the relatively consistent pattern of views over the past few days indicates to me that some of you are repeat offenders.  Feel free to say 'Hello' in the comments section and identify yourselves!  I'd also like to extend a welcome to any new readers who've found this place over the past few days while I've been inactive.

I do have a few substantial posts in store for the future, including a continuation of the "Why would you want to study rocks?" series, but the research materials I need for that are currently in the mail, so between that and research time it could take a couple of weeks.  I'll make sure to find some interesting material to fill the gap until then.  Stay posted!

A visit to a harpsichord builder's workshop.

[NOTE:  For those of you who do not share my fascination with ancient instruments and may not be familiar with it, this is a harpsichord. I will provide a few links to YouTube videos at the bottom to help familiarize the curious with the sound of a harpsichord and with a limited selection of harpsichord repertoire.]

I have to admit to a bit of trepidation when I showed up at the door of Gerald Self's house/workshop.  Granted, the man had been very congenial when we exchanged e-mails about the possibility of a visit to his shop, sending me documents informing me of the do-it-yourself kits he sold and the models he built himself, assuring me that he would not try to sell me anything, and insisting that there would be no charge for the visit.  However, I was pretty certain he wasn't expecting a long-haired twenty-something year old to show up in jeans and a T-shirt. (My only excuse for being so under-dressed is that I have a large number of severe chemical sensitivities that make it extremely difficult to find dress clothes.)  I found myself arriving a bit early, too, which made me concerned about the possibility of throwing his schedule out of balance.  Fortunately, the personality that was revealed through e-mail very quickly asserted itself once he recognized me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: The Best Short Stories of William Kittredge

A year or two ago while working on a survey of Western and Southwestern writers I came across William Kittredge, who has written a novel, a memoir, short stories and essays.  His graceful, flowing prose moved me and I read a large portion of his published works.

"Why would you want to study rocks?" Part 1: The Big Picture

This is the first in a short series of posts giving my response to a question that geologists often have to deal with:  What is it that is so interesting about rocks and why would anyone want to study them?

Please note that I intend to address this question in a manner that intentionally excludes economic and environmental/social reasons to study geology.  My goal is to demonstrate that geology is interesting in itself without factoring in economic or social issues that come into play in certain areas of the field.  There are a variety of geology bloggers out there who can and have written on the economic, environmental and social importance of geology and I don't feel it's necessary to add my voice to the chorus.

So, why do we want to study rocks?  I would like to start by illustrating the difference between what an average joe thinks of when they hear "rock" or "rocks" and what a geologist thinks of.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Who are you and what is this blog about?

That's a difficult question to answer, but I'll give it a try.  I'll start with who I am:  I'm a fellow who happens to have a wide variety of interests, a desire to write about them, and no outlet for doing so, hence this blog.